As always, our purpose is to provide the best, most affordable, and most effective solutions to our authors. Looking at how support has been requested and used over the last two years, we feel this is the best way to meet everyone’s needs.
First, some quick history…
The other original intent for ModFarm was to make it fully supported. Original members signed up for two subscriptions: $25/mo for hosting and $25/mo for support. I really had no idea what support would cost, to be honest, but my thought process was if everyone signed up for it then even larger jobs would even out in the long run. Not everyone needs support all the time. Kind of like insurance, I guess. We wanted every site to be current and active, and ThirdScribe had taught us that authors were, by and large, not that willing to keep their sites updated with their latest release – a universal support subscription fee seemed to address that and all were happy.
Eventually, budgets got a little tighter and more and more clients asked to be DIY or, at the least, a’la carte. We tried it on an experimental basis – and it worked out OK. There were some invoicing issues we struggled with at the beginning, but those were resolved and now it’s working pretty smoothly. Considering we now have significantly more ala Carte Support vs Concierge Support, I’d say it’s become the new standard.
Which brings us to today.
One thing we didn’t account for with ala Carte Support was the degrading balance between DIY users, Support Users, and the cost deficit that created. Whether we want to call it cost distribution, cost sharing, or digital socialism, the reality is the support pricing was based on everyone paying for support – and now only one third of users do. But, that one third, largely, uses 90% of all support. And, in reality, it is one third of that one third.
Once you step back and look at it, it becomes pretty obvious that this can’t continue long term.
As a result, the Modfarm Support Policy is getting updated to account for the actual reality of what our members need in terms of support for their websites.
Book and product entry has gotten much more involved than the early days. Not only are page designs more complex, requiring more image prep work, but linking has become much more dynamic and, with preorders, audiobooks, and online stores, a book page often requires multiple revisions.
To compensate for that, just as we have with hosting, we’ve been working and testing a way to get everyone the support they need at the most effective price. We’ve updated our support pricing and that will be going into effect with the ModFarm 3.0 rollout.
What are these changes we’re talking about?
In essence, our members fall into two main categories. Those who need regular, consistent support on their sites and those who don’t. When I say “regular consistent support” I’m referring to weekly book ads (some multiple per week) and/or multiple times a month scheduled small tasks (newsletter formatting, store updates, landing page builds, etc). Inconsistent members are much more along the lines of adding a book a couple times a year, maybe a small change in addition to that.
These are very different camps, and in each one there are still “power” users. Some clients add 10, even 20, books a month. Some don’t publish often, but when they do it is with a significant, multi-week launch plan. And some quietly add a new book two to three times a year. It’s a very wide support range to accommodate.
To meet this need, Support is now broken out into three options: a Support Subscription, a’la Carte Support, and Custom Support.
We’re keeping the Support Subscription, but the price has increased to meet the most common use case. The standard support subscription is now set at $45/mo and this support level provides a means for what we originally envisioned and is the most common among active Support users: a couple of book or product adds a month and maybe a light change or two – format a blog post, help with a newsletter kind of thing. While we remain flexible and accommodating with any subscriber, this is not unlimited support, so if a member goes beyond the scope (say, you add a bunch of translations at one go), the balance of work will be charged a’la Carte.
We’ve also really opened up, and encourage, a’la Carte Support, where we have dedicated unit pricing and fast invoicing for most standard things. $12.50 to add book, $10 for a product, $20 a task. If you write and send your own newsletters and blog posts and just want a little help now and then, this is the best way to go. Clients can even give ModFarm standing support orders and we’ll monitor your listings online, take the directed action, and invoice when it’s done. We think this is the most cost effective and flexible support option and puts the control in the author or publisher’s hand.
Finally, we have Custom Support levels. We have a few clients that have very active sites that require significantly more effort and upkeep than the average. For these clients we’ll track their usage ala carte, find an average spend, and work with them to develop a cost effective support plan to simplify billing.
Here are some scenarios to help illustrate how this will work
1. Monthly Support Subscription. The author signs up for monthly standard support for $45/mo. Each week they add either a book or a product to their website, with no other actions. Time goes by and one month they ask for some help to promote their Patreon on the home page – no problem, we got you. A few months later, they want to add a full series they had translated to German – 6 books, on top of the usual 4. The four books will be added as usual, and the 6 translated books are invoiced for $12.50 each to enter and build those pages.
2. Ala Carte Support. An author requests ala carte support with a standing order to add a book to their site when it goes on preorder to Amazon, but permission first for any anthologies. Each month ModFarm support checks their Amazon listing, and when a new book is found, it’s added to the site and the client is sent an invoice. Couple of months go by and nothing new is added, nothing is charged, all are happy. Then, the next month two books go up for preorder and also an anthology is published which the author is attached to. We enter the two books, ask the client for direction on the anthology, and invoice for work accomplished.
3. Ala Carte Support, take 2. An author with ala carte support requests a book be added. We do so and invoice. Two months later, the book comes out on audio and the author lets us know – no worries, we got you. We add in the audio component, no charge (audio updates are included in the original $12.50).
4. Ala Carte Support, take 3. An author publishes a couple of times a year and communicates in advance their launch plan. Part of the launch plan is to have preorders through their existing online store, build a custom list from those sales to a newsletter, have a custom newsletter auto-sequence for that preorder, add a book page for the new book, and create a custom landing page. On completion, the client would be invoiced $12.50 for the book page, $10 for the product page, a $20 small task to arrange the newsletter and sequence and a $20 small task for the landing page.
5. Custom Support. A publisher publishes, on average, two books a week. They want book pages added, the home page updated, index pages updated, a blog post formatted and posted, and a newsletter formatted and sent out each Thursday. This happens every week, with the publisher sending text and images. A custom support plan is developed and agreed to. One week, three books are added instead of two – no problem, we got you. Another month the publisher decides to add an online store, with 15 products to start, and adding two products a week to the store after that. The extra work for setting up and populating the store is priced separately and invoiced, and then the support plan is updated for the additional work moving forward.
How Does Doing This Help?
The purpose of this change is to align support costs to the individual author or publisher in the way most appropriate to them. In a majority of cases, this will result in a reduction in monthly/annual costs. For a small number of members, there will be an increase in cost.
The overall effect will be an increased support response time from ModFarm with an overall reduction in cost. In effect, it puts more emphasis on ModFarm to be active in support while author will only pay for the support they actually need and use, at the time that they use it.
When Will This Take Effect?
When your site is upgraded to ModFarm 3.0, we’ll confirm your support needs and what support option you prefer.